His Passion for Cooking Motivates Him to Learn More Everyday
Silver Spring, MD - Riderwood Executive Chef Chad Wisner's success as a chef is deep rooted in his true love for the culinary arts and his passion for teaching and mentoring.
"Passion is everything in this industry," says Wisner, who started his career at the age of 15, like most chefs, as a dishwasher. Since then, he has advanced through the kitchen from prep cook to executive chef, learning, experimenting, and guiding others along the way.
"My passion drives me to excellence, which motivates me to learn and develop in order to stay current in the industry," he says.
Wisner, who graduated from Pennsylvania Culinary, in Pittsburgh, Pa., worked his way through the industry from Marriott Hotels to high-end restaurants to high-volume restaurants and finally anchored himself in a career with Erickson Living 12 years ago.
As executive chef at Riderwood, an Erickson Living developed and managed community in Silver Spring, MD, Wisner leads a team of chefs, cooks, kitchen staff, and servers. There, in the kitchen serving 2,500 residents and their guests each day, he fuels his fire.
"There is nothing more gratifying then jumping into a fast-paced kitchen and seeing it through till the last ticket leaves. Knowing that you helped your team accomplish something meaningful is very rewarding. My philosophy is to think about one plate at a time, trying to make each experience memorable for our residents and guests," he says.
When Erickson Living transitioned from batch cooking in all of its community restaurants to Signature Dining—or a la carte cooking—about three years ago, Wisner found even more momentum and love for his job as he guided his staff from the batch cooking philosophy to fresh, made-to-order, resident-focused menu offerings, executed at the moment of service to deliver an exceptional dining experience.
"The Signature Dining program really allowed me to bridge those passions of food, people, and teaching. Working alongside culinarians who did not have the a la carte experience and bringing them along in the journey from batch cooking to the new Signature Program has been very rewarding," he says. "Seeing the staff build confidence in their abilities through the journey and seeing that reflected in the pride of the food being created was special."
Wisner says being part of the planning and execution of this new company-wide vision has left him with a sense of pride and accomplishment. "It allowed me to leave my mark no only on Riderwood but the industry, as Erickson Living set the bar for how we take care of our residents and staff," he says.
To him, creating an exceptional dining experience for the people who call Riderwood home is more than a job. He builds relationships with the people he and his team serve every day. They listen to their needs, suggestions, and critiques through menu-planning meetings and comment cards. They take a resident-focused approach to creating the menus at each of the community's seven onsite restaurants and catering department.
"Building relationships, as well as learning from their life experiences, has been fantastic," Wisner says. "The way the residents express their gratitude for what we do makes you feel so full and accomplished in life."
Dining Director Jeff Kimbell says Wisner's enthusiasm and dedication is not unique at Riderwood—it's evident community wide.
"We have dedicated team that is truly committed to finding ways to improve our residents' experience. We recently opened three new state-of-the-art venues in our Town Center neighborhood each featuring resident-focused, restaurant-style menus," Kimbell says. "It's an exciting time in Dining at Riderwood."
Photo caption: Riderwood Executive Chef Chad Wisner preparing for dinner at Riderwood. (Chris Taydus)
About Riderwood, Riderwood, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 120-acre campus in Silver Spring, Maryland. The community is located in Montgomery County and is home to more than 2,500 residents. Additional information about Riderwood can be found at RiderwoodCommunity.com.